Some players who will be in the Baltimore Orioles organization this year will bring championship experience to the team.
The Perth Heat had four players who are in the Orioles’ farm system. Kevin Grendell and Zach Staniewicz both pitched in the Gulf Coast League in 2013, while utility infielder Tucker Nathans played for both A Delmarva and A Frederick. Big first baseman Pita Rona, the New Zealander who is 6 foot 7, also played for the Gulf Coast Orioles in 2013.
Nathans started most games for the Heat, amassing 42 hits and a .280 batting average. He was second on the team in doubles with 12 in 150 at-bats, and third on the team in RBIs. He also was tied for the team lead in steals with 9. The one down side is that the infielder had 7 errors.
Rona struggled mightily, going 2 for 22 with 12 strikeouts. However, Rona is used to playing softball, as he did in New Zealand, and despite having the physical tools to succeed, the 19-year-old still has a lot to learn.
Grendell also struggled, going 21.2 innings with a WHIP over 2 and an ERA north of 6.2. He started three games, finishing with a record of 0-1.
Staniewicz fared much better, starting two games and pitching 16.1 innings to 0.55 ERA and a WHIP of 1.04. He only had 6 Ks, but also only allowed 6 hits. Walks were an issue for the converted knuckleballer, but he did have the opportunity to work with former Yankee major-leaguer Graeme Lloyd.
Meanwhile for Naranjeros de Hermosillo, free agent signing Alfredo Aceves was one of the stars of the team, picking up the two wins that helped propel the team to the championship game, which they won thanks to the work of former Oriole Chris Roberson.
Aceves is the only one who could wear an Orioles uniform this year. However, just like Jonathan Schoop’s experience last year in the World Baseball Classic, performing on a big stage will likely leave these players wanting success in America as well, in the Orioles organization.